The coach of British Bobsleigh has resigned in the wake of allegations of bullying and discrimination within the Olympic programme.
Dominik Scherrer has left less than five months before the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Although he is not personally accused of any wrongdoing he claimed a change in strategy at the governing body had made him feel unable to do his job. Bobsleigh is one of several sports which has undergone an independent review after being implicated in the duty of care scandal afflicting British Olympic and Paralympic sport.
His departure comes after the performance director, Gary Anderson, stood down last month citing “health issues.”
In an email sent to athletes and staff, Swiss Scherrer wrote: “Until now it was possible for me to decide what strategy we use. This is no longer possible. I have always been success-oriented and I don’t feel comfortable with the current strategy and I don’t have the competence to make decisions in that regard.
“Also, it will not be possible to work with the same performance team in the future. What made us successful in the past is that I could be who I am. This is, for reasons that we all could not have foreseen, no longer possible.”
UK Sport, the agency which allocates lottery and exchequer funding, cut British Bobsleigh’s support by nearly £50,000 this summer after athletes on the elite performance programme complained of a “toxic atmosphere” in the sport.
In a complaint directed to Richard Packer, the chief executive of the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association, one athlete alleged a senior coach referred to black people as “lazy” and had “a blatant dislike towards people of colour.” Another claimed there was “a racial bias in favour of caucasian males” on the performance programme and “a racial stigma against black drivers.”
British Bobsleigh and Skeleton, which has received £10m in UK Sport funding for the four year cycle to the Pyeongchang Olympics, is expected to announce the appointment of a new coach on Friday.
Scherrer’s departure is one of a few linked to the fall out from increased scrutiny of athlete welfare in Olympic sport. The British Cycling performance director, Shane Sutton, resigned just months before the Rio Olympics after being accused of sexism and disability discrimination. There are independent reviews underway at British Canoeing and British Swimming after allegations of bullying and discrimination were made at both governing bodies.